Where to go for our 25th?
April 30, 2005 11:37 AM   Subscribe

We will be celebrating our 25th anniversary later this year. Seeing as how we've never been in a position, economically, to do anything wildly special over the years, we would like to make this one really special...

Our desire is to find someplace warm, uncrowded and quiet, where we can sit on a beach for most of a week and absolutely vegetate. Something that has caught our eye has been the South Pacific. Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, etc. The idea of a small "village" of huts extending out into a lagoon really works for us.
Has anyone done a vacation like this? I fear it is probably frighteningly expensive. Is there anything like I described in Hawaii? Everything I see there seems to be fairly crowded resorts. We really want to get away from people this time.
posted by Thorzdad to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A less expensive option than either Hawaii or the South Pacific might be renting a beach cabana in Tulum, Mexico (warning: self-link). Although it is getting more popular, it is pretty much the opposite of staying at a big resort. There are all sorts of accommodations that range from a shack on the beach for $20USD /night to full luxurious cabins for $200/night. Congratulations and have a great trip wherever you go.
posted by Staggering Jack at 12:22 PM on April 30, 2005

also Costa Rica has places with the same sort of setup i think. You can find that kind of resort all over the Caribbean too, nowadays. Travel and Leisure is good for that sort of thing, or go to a good travel agent and tell them what you want. Have a great time! It will be expensive either way, but you'll save tons on airfare by going somewhere closer.
posted by amberglow at 12:44 PM on April 30, 2005

Anything like you've described in Hawaii, with small huts on the beach, etc., is going to be _outrageously_ expensive--like "only if you're a movie star" expensive.

On the other hand, that's not to say that there aren't a lot of really attractive, much more reasonable options out there. My wife and I used to live there when we first met, and when we went back for our wedding and honeymoon, we just camped at different places on the Big Island for two weeks. Practically free, and very close to nature.

That's probably a little more "roughing it" than you're looking for (and more than we'd look for now, past our tenth anniversary), but there are still a lot of great places to stay there. For example, there's a place called the Waipio Valley on the Big Island, that's stuck in a slice between two mountains and the ocean--you can get a room there pretty cheap, go horseback riding, hang out on a pretty secluded beach...really nice.
posted by LairBob at 12:55 PM on April 30, 2005


Skip Hawaii by all means. It's gorgeous no doubt, but you'll pay an arm and a leg for everything -- every meal, every tour, every show, etc. It's impossible to have fun in a place like Hawaii nowadays unless your willing to spend a huge amount of money. Plus it doesn't feel even remotely remote any more, it's painfully touristy.

What I would suggest is a place like Phuket, Thailand. Everything inside the resort is fairly priced and everything outside the resort is dirt cheap. Better yet, if you stay at a place like Club Med, which I highly recommend, everything is included -- all your meals, all the on-site activities (tennis, golf, squash, archery, etc.), all the shows, and so on. And Club Med does everything in style, the food is wonderful, the shows are great, the activities never get old, and if they do, just rent a motorcycle (for dirt cheap) and go explore the city. Also, since it's all inclusive, you will know ahead of time almost exactly how much you will end up spending.

If getting to a place like Phuket is out of your price range, find a Club Med a little closer (there are plenty around the world). But steer clear of places that immediately come to mind when the average American thinks vacation. Otherwise it will be overpriced and overly touristy. And again, all inclusive, at least in my book, is always a great deal.
posted by JPowers at 1:05 PM on April 30, 2005

A friend of mine came back from Goa a month ago raving about Palolem Beach. Treehouse, own bathroom, laid-back, cheap.
posted by suleikacasilda at 1:08 PM on April 30, 2005

a place like this maybe? Compass Point, in the Bahamas
posted by amberglow at 1:19 PM on April 30, 2005

Club Med isn't painfully touristy? We went once, when I was about 14, and we all hated it. Loud music, obnoxiously friendly staff, weird people, and ALL INCLUSIVE! Buffets, organized activites, the works. If you want seclusion, Club Med is not your thing for this trip. I know there are 'adult only' inclusives, but seriously, there are other ways to have a great vacation, plan a budget and get to somewhere tropical. I'm still cringing from the pool guy that would spontaneously jack up the music, get everyone in the pool to do some stupid dance, and you tend NOT to go off the property because you've already paid for it. It wasn't relaxing for anyone on the trip, and that included parents and grandparents. Having said that, Thailand would be amazing, and it can still be cheap but luxurious. There are lots of options: islands, mainland, huts, gorgeous hotels, massages, kayak trips, the works. Email me if you end up going and want some tips: there are lots of others on here that have Thailand experiences as well. Are you in the US? If so, where? That could dictate air prices/packages a bit. These hotels in Bora Bora look amazing. The Greek and Croatian islands are also spectacular.
posted by fionab at 1:26 PM on April 30, 2005

Croatia is very nice. I'd also recommend the West Coast of Turkey. IT is much cheaper than Greece, and the islands are every bit as beautiful.

(Isn't Club Med the place where they offer drinks as incentives to make friends with strangers, and don't they have staff try to corale you into socializing?)
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:36 PM on April 30, 2005

The best beach and relaxation vacation I've ever been to was a resort on the isle of Praslin, in Seychelles. Seychelles has a number of places that are like waking up in pleasant tropical fantasy.

I know this is a special occasion for you and I don't know what "frighteningly expensive" means to you, but it might be too much. The only other downside of that destination is that it's an extremely long set of flights to get there.
posted by mosch at 3:38 PM on April 30, 2005

There are cabin-camping setups like that on St. John in the USVI too; never been myself but they'd be more convenient than Costa Rica or Thailand.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:54 PM on April 30, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone! I'm always amazed at the wide range of experiences the MeFi family bring to the table. Quite boggling to this land-locked, never-been-anywhere midwesterner.

I have to say the eco-tour resorts in Mexico really lept out at me!
posted by Thorzdad at 5:11 AM on May 1, 2005

Thailand is great. We stayed somewhere sort of like what you described - tiny hotel, great view... There's loads of coastline which is completely untouched by the Tsunami, and they could really do with the tourist dollar right now. I only spent three weeks there over xmas so I'm not really an expert but I'd recommend it to anyone.
posted by handee at 6:53 AM on May 1, 2005

We've also been to Tulum, although a few years ago so it probably has changed, but a friend recently told us that it's still wonderful. We absolutely loved it. It's the perfect place for just sitting on the beach, and it's untouristy and undeveloped compared to other parts of the Caribbean. Tulum also has some small ruins of its own overlooking the sea, and it is three hours away from the much more majestic and famous ruins of Chichen Itza, if you feel like taking a trip. We stayed at a place called Tita Tulum, in a very basic but very clean cabin literally ON the beach with fantastic food. If you go, rent a car -- it's more expensive but worth it unless you stay right in town. The only reservation one might have is that the sea is rather wavy and choppy there -- more so than on other parts of the Caribbean. So you may have to go out on a boat if you want to snorkel or dive etc.

Another place we didn't go to but heard is great is Isla Mujeres, also near Cancun. Of course, spend as little time in Cancun itself as possible.
posted by xammerboy at 7:48 AM on May 1, 2005

Oh man, if you're interested in all things eco on a vacation, are in the US somewhere in the midwest, go to Costa Rica! It is really, really easy to find a great eco-tour or hotel in Costa Rica, it's gorgeous, easy to get around, and there will be cheap flights if you look in advance. Look here, here, here, here and here. Or just search for huts Costa Rica, Eco Costa Rica, etc. Tulum is cool too, Isla Mujeres is getting a little touristy, but CR or the DR would be very romantique :-)
posted by fionab at 9:30 AM on May 1, 2005

Hi Thorzdad, my sister has hit every location mentioned here in her travels through the world (and we're from the Big Island). She's also been to Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. I'll ask her for her advice on your trip and post it here. It'd be helpful to know your willingness to adventure, any other special requirements you have, and tolerance for remote locations. For example, we loved Thailand, and it is extremely cheap, but you are also traveling through a very undeveloped country, and better be prepared for all the inconveniences associated with that if you visit there.

As to the comments on Hawaii being outrageously expensive, this is an impression a lot of people get when they hit the state tourist traps (i.e. almost the entire island of Maui). You can definitely get around some of the other islands very reasonably, and there are certainly a few beaches that are fairly non-crowded.

I'll second the Waipio Valley idea, and also recommend you check out the small towns in the Kau and Kohala area of the Big Island. Off-hand there may also be something at Moloka'i Ranch for you.

If you're still seriously considering Hawaii, you might want to pick up one of the books mentioned in this thread .

Oh, and email is in the profile if you have any general questions about the places we've traveled or specific questions about the Big Island.
posted by onalark at 10:59 AM on May 1, 2005

Likewise, if you do decide to go to the Tulum area, please feel free to email me if you have any questions (my email is in my profile). It's really a great place to spend time on a beach.
posted by Staggering Jack at 11:13 AM on May 1, 2005

I fourth Costa Rica

some of the most amazing beaches I've ever been to. And if you and your wife enjoy hiking and don't mind getting up early they have these great nature preserves. The deal is they start giving out tickets at say 6 in the morning and there are some great trails to hike through the jungle. Once you reach the end, you'll come to an amazing stretch of beach where there's like 10 other people for miles. One we went to was pure white, one was pure black. Oh, and I did a zip line tour throught the jungle that was the scariest/coolest thing I've ever done in my life.

I've also been to phuket thailand and Thailand is great, just be aware that it's pretty sketchy. They're gonna know you're american the instant you get off the plan and they're going to be doing their best to get your money. Not in a bad way, but it's a bit of a hassle.
posted by slapshot57 at 10:21 PM on May 1, 2005

Please update us on your decision & how it went - my 20th is next year!
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:25 AM on May 2, 2005

Response by poster: An update...and a followup question (getting around the one-question-a-week rule)
We are all but decided on Copal...that is if my wife can get over her trepidation over the lack of electricity. If she does, I have a question...
Is there anything on the market that would re-charge video-cam batteries using solar energy? Of course, it would have to be portable (i.e. easily stowed in the luggage) Other than buying a bag-full of batteries, I see no other way to take video in a no-electricity camp.

Thanks all, again, for your help. The choices were overwhelming...in a good way!
posted by Thorzdad at 7:14 AM on May 5, 2005

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